When we think about Love, we are reminded about the most magnificent statement of love, a statement of God’s love – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. This is the most known passage of the Holy Bible. Referenced in the Gospel of John, the 16th verse in the 3rd chapter, is fondly known as John 3:16. Worldwide companies, organisations, T-shirts, trainers, sneakers and many others have this verse on them!
God’s love is beautiful beyond all imagination. It’s amazing because He loves you unconditionally. He loves you irrespective of what you are, what you have done. There is absolutely NO LIMIT to the depth and breadth of God’s beautiful love. Yesterday I came across a sweet amazing instance where prisoners for various crimes imprisoned for decades to a lifetime were reformed into a new beginning. Shall share details in an upcoming blog post, once I get a written permission.
To put in plain language,
God’s love is unconditional.
God’s love does not have any strings attached to it.
God’s love does not demand anything.
God’s love focuses on the future.
God’s love focuses on the possibilities.
God’s love ignores the past.
God’s love acknowledges the finished work of the cross is enough.
God’s love does not depend on your performance, nor your past..
Many understand the significance of loving God, without stepping beyond this. In the Epistle of John, we are asked to step deeper into this. In Chapter 4, we read about the importance of loving one another. But if we love one another, God abides (lives and remains) in us and His love (that love which is essentially His) is brought to completion (to its full maturity, runs its full course, is perfected) in us! (1 John 4:12)
We are also reminded about the meaninglessness of saying that we love God when we do not love people around us! Here is the verse which points to this hypocrisy! Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. (1 John 4:20)
To make matters clear, the very next verse repeats this as a command. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:20)
Paul, who wrote many of the Epistles, has read your mind on all the challenges you face in loving people around you. And when you know this, you will realise that you are not alone in coming across difficulties in loving people around you.
Here is from 1st Corinthians Chapter 13, verbatim from The Passion Translation version of the Bible. Since you may have not read this version, as there is beauty and truth in the way Love is explained, here it is. Read slowly, read with understanding, read soaking into each theme.
Understanding the nature of Love – 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13
1. If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn’t express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal.
2. And if I were to have the gift of prophecy[c] with a profound understanding of God’s hidden secrets, and if I possessed unending supernatural knowledge, and if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains, but have never learned to love, then I am nothing.
3. And if I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr, without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value.
4. Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when a blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. 5. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honour. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offence. 6. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. 7. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
8 Love never stops loving. It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away. It is more enduring than tongues, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten.[p] 9. Our present knowledge and our prophecies are but partial, 10. but when love’s perfection arrives, the partial will fade away. 11. When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways.
12. For now we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face. My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood. 13. Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run. (1 Corinthians 13)
In the Gospel of Mathew, Jesus Christ directs us to love our enemies. He asks two questions. Ponder on these questions. They help us to change the framework for interactions.
If you love those who love you, do you think you have any rewards. If you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Don’t tax collectors do the same?
We are expected to do more. Walking and going an extra mile, going more than what’s the norm of the world. This is the base line, the bare minimum expectation from us.